While the term “upcycling” originally referred to industrial-scale transformation of materials into high quality products (instead of the often less useful and pleasing results of traditional recycling), the crafty/DIY set has appropriated this term. Now, if you see something described as “upcycled,” it’s probably going to refer to a handmade product produced from materials destined for the landfill or the recycling bin. The Upcycle Exchange is one great example of how this idea is taking hold here in St. Louis.
For Jenny Murphy, the founder of social enterprise Perennial, crafy reuse of discarded materials serves as both literal mission and metaphor: her organization is dedicated not only to repurposing items and materials that others have discarded, but also to empowering individuals and communities “to discover ways to transform discarded goods into objects of worth.” Her eventual goal: “a community workshop and store in St. Louis MO that offers educational programming in creative reuse to diverse populations and sells creatively repurposed home furnishings and eco-friendly supplies for reuse projects.”
Of course, such efforts take money, so Perennial will be holding its first fundraising event on October 6. “Lost + Found” will feature many of the elements of the typical fundraiser – music, food, a silent auction – but they’ll all have upcycled elements to them. For instance,
- Musicians Green Strum will kick out the folk tunes on upcycled instruments;
- The silent auction will feature work by local artists who were all challenged to repurpose “a set of salvaged drawers into a unique furniture piece”;
- Photographs from Perennial classes will give you some insight into the work they’re doing; and
- Attendees will even get to do a little upcycling themselves by turning old bike inner tubes into drink coozies.
Sounds like a great time! Tickets are are a mere $10 in advance ($15 at the door). You can also bring a tool to donate for the “Tool Booth Midway.”
Want to jump right in and start upcycling yourself? Check out Jenny’s project video for a DIY secretary desk:
Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog, St. Louis’ oldest continuously published green blog. Check out some of our own recent posts on crafty use, including our coverage of eco fashion designer Rachel Mace’s debut show, and nine project ideas for upcycling glossy magazines. You can follow Jeff on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.